THE WHIS­PERER

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - PETS - Anne Box­hall Email abox­hall@big­pond.com

JOUR­NAL­IST Will Pot­ter has a pow­er­ful tale to tell in his book Green is the New Red. The book ex­poses a world where peace­ful protest is branded ex­trem­ism and gov­ern­ments and pow­er­ful in­dus­tries use fear to si­lence the con­cerns of ev­ery­day people.

Dis­turbingly, it’s not a fi ctional work. Green is the New Red pre­sents true sto­ries of en­vi­ron­men­tal and an­i­mal ad­vo­cates in the United States, la­belled do­mes­tic ter­ror­ists to be pros­e­cuted as crim­i­nals, even though none have ever harmed a sin­gle hu­man be­ing. Their weapon of choice is a cam­era.

In Aus­tralia, Se­na­tor Barnaby Joyce re­cently an­nounced a na­tional ef­fort to crack down on an­i­mal ad­vo­cates who pub­li­cise footage col­lected on fac­tory farms. Joyce said farm­ers needed to be pro­tected from cam­era- wield­ing “vig­i­lantes”. A web search of an­i­mal abuse in fac­tory farms re­veals it’s the an­i­mals who need pro­tec­tion and that in most cases it’s un­der­cover oper­a­tors who pro­vide ev­i­dence of an­i­mal abuse – not in­dus­try or govern­ment.

There are al­ready tres­pass laws that deal with un­der­cover sur­veil­lance and un­der pro­posed ag- gag laws even farm work­ers who are not tres­pass­ing could be crim­i­nalised for ex­pos­ing cruel prac­tices. With­out sur­veil­lance, we have lit­tle hope of be­ing in­formed on what oc­curs in fac­tory farms, de­spite more people want­ing to know how an­i­mals raised for food are treated.

In one of sev­eral cases brought to light, a Vic­to­rian abat­toir was forced to close af­ter video footage ob­tained from an an­i­mal ad­vo­cate showed the mis­treat­ment of pigs go­ing to slaugh­ter.

The mes­sage is clear: out­law an­i­mal abuse, not the cam­eras that doc­u­ment it. Vi­o­la­tions of an­i­mal- pro­tec­tion laws are crim­i­nal of­fences and per­pe­tra­tors should not be able to hide be­hind closed doors.

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